The following Gregory jade 38 backpack review was submitted by Georgina. See all backpack reviews here.
I am an outdoorsy type and enjoy hiking and kayaking, and just spent a year being an au-pair in Manitoba. I needed a dual purpose bag, which I would love. Having recently replaced my old tatty Mountain Warehouse backpack of two years, with a new Gregory Jade 38, I wanted to offer a review as I think this is often an overlooked bag. There are very few reviews out there. My backpack and I are currently on a tour of North America, right now we are sunny ourselves in Mexico but plan to travel to colder climes in February.
What’s your backpack brand and model? How much does this backpack typically cost?
The Gregory Jade 38 is a mid-size hiking pack, with all the fancy features you get on bigger rucksacks. The cost is around $150 and is widely available through MEC and REI but could be harder to buy internationally than other brands. I’ve never seen Gregory in the UK for example.
>> Check for prices of the Gregory Jade 38 on Amazon.
How long have you had your backpack and where have you traveled with it?
I have only had this backpack for a month in which time I have tested it hiking and travelled around Mexico. Therefore this is just an initial review and I cannot comment on its robustness over time. Although I did check it in recently and it came out unscathed. After a month of travel it still looks good as new.
>>For a bigger bag, read this review of the Gregory Diva 60L backpack.
What factors were most important to you in choosing a backpack?
The most important factor in my choice was the quality of the pack. My last pack fell apart in 2 years. As this bag would be my constant companion, I didn’t want that to happen again. I also needed a pack that was dual purpose, that functioned well for hiking and travel.
The size, colour and special features were a large part of my final choice too. Features such as the air mesh back, front and top loading, inner lid pocket and hip belt with pockets all drew me to the Gregory. These features are often found on bigger (65+ L) packs but are rarer in combination on medium sized packs. I already knew that anything larger than 45L would be too big for comfort and carry on.
>>Check out our tips for choosing a front loading backpack.
What do you like most about your backpack? Any down sides?
There are so many things which make me love this pack. The colour, perfect size for 2 climates and carry on, front loading, comfort and quality.
The build quality of all the Gregory packs is high. There is no pull at the stitching as on some cheaper brands, the fabric is water resistant, and the zips feel solid. The quality adds to the aesthetics of the bag. This is a truly beautiful backpack with simple lines and great colour choices and accents.
I chose the grey colour with blue/pink accents but there are 3 other colours to chose from: red, purple and turquoise. All four combinations are pretty, and I would have brought the red if the pack was only for hiking, but for travel I felt the grey would blend in better and not draw attention.
The size is just perfect for travel and an overnight hiking adventure. There is just enough space to cram in a tent, small sleeping bag and cooking equipment. This will become this bag’s main use for me, once I am settled. It would also be a good choice for outdoor leaders who need to carry more equipment for the group. For travel, this bag is just carry on sized when not completely full, it offers enough space for extra outfits or gloves, hats and boots when travelling to a cold climate. Although careful packing is required it still gives enough space for those who are used to travelling carry on only.
This bag offers a great combination of features. There is both top and front loading for travel, a comfortable hip belt with pockets, 2 side pockets, 2 lid pockets, a stuffable front pocket similar to that on the Osprey packs, a pocket for a hydration bladder and a raincover.
The are a few downsides, as with any product, nothing major for me but things you might want. Firstly it is difficult to put a full size laptop in to this bag because of the slight curve created by the airmesh back panel. This is not a problem for me right now but does prevent a laptop being packed easily.
Secondly, it would be great if this pack was an inch shorter and instead a little wider. That would make it fit better in to the carry on size regulations. I have found it is fine as a carry on, even on the stricter Mexican airlines, but I am conscious not to fill the top pocket when flying as this makes the bag too long for the official dimensions.
My only other small annoyance with this pack is the placement of the straps which hold the front section. You have to unclip 2 side straps to access the front loading section. It is very minor but takes time, which can be frustrating when you want quick access.
This bag is great, has great features but does have some downsides, but nothing that should stop you purchasing this backpack. Gregory is certainly a brand to consider if you are in the market for a pretty pack, with great features.
>>Check out these companies that offer awesome travel gear warranties.
Tell us about the fit and comfort level of your backpack.
I have the medium size of this bag, but small and X-small are available. I’m around 5’5″ and find this bag very comfortable even when fully loaded. In the shop, I actually said it was the most comfortable bag I’d ever worn, and that includes my Osprey Ariel. The Jade has a full hip belt and load straps which allows you to carry large weights comfortably.
If you want to take your backpack as carry-on luggage, can you?
Yes, with a bit of thought not to fill the top pocket on stricter airlines. I am yet to test this on European airlines but have flown carry on with this bag on VivaAerobus in Mexico and they are pretty strict and often weigh your carry on.
Have you found the size to be too small, just right, or too large?
Just right. My old backpack was 35L and after the top pocket broke it was more like 32L. After working in a small 32L, the Gregory Jade 38L feels like heaven. The front stuffable pocket even provides extra room for coats or shoes which was useful when leaving minus thirty degrees and arriving to plus twenty!
Overall, would you recommend your backpack?
Yes, definitely. Anyone considering medium sized backpack should consider this. Especially for those who like to use their bag outdoors as well as for city travel.
About the author: Georgina is an outdoor girl who just spent a year au-pairing in Canada and is now travelling around North America. She has travelled around Europe in the past and across the US and Canada in the last year. She posts a picture a day at blip foto of my travels and keep a rarely updated blog.
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